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It's game day at Sandcreek Middle School and the tipoff against rival Rocky Mountain is minutes away.
The gymnasium, filled with basketball players, cheerleaders and spectators, starts to get rowdy. Luckily, "Dragons of the Realm," Sandcreek's new student safety team, is there to help.
Wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Dragon Security," the students keep an eye on things from each corner of the gym, monitor the ticket line and help with crowd control to help ensure the event runs smoothly.
"If we see two people arguing, we'll try to split them up," 13-year-old Taylor Beasterfield said. "If we see two people (getting violent), we'll get an adult involved. We're really there to make sure no one does anything bad."
When they're not helping out at basketball games, Dragon Security members patrol assemblies, school dances, field trips - any event where they're needed, said Principal Lyndon Oswald, who's also the group's adviser.
Taylor, with Oswald's help, started the safety club last fall - joining with other students who wanted to make Sandcreek feel a bit safer. The school hasn't had any particular safety issues, Oswald said, but he thought the club would provide additional eyes and ears for administrators, to help them get a better sense of issues at the student level.
For example, he said, a safety team member might witness two students engaged in a heated argument in the hallway. The team member will let Oswald know, and he can diffuse the situation.
"If you think there's no bullying going on, you're wrong," Oswald said. "These kids tell me about things I'm not aware of. Kids don't tell adults certain things, but the (safety team) will quietly tell me about it later in my office."
When the team first was organized, the reaction from other students was so-so, Taylor said, but quickly grew to respect.
"At first, (students) thought we were just a fake little group that was there just for fun," he said. "They thought we were just standing around not doing anything. But then, we actually started stopping people and they realized how real we were."
Since fall, team membership has grown from 12 to 16. Oswald said he expects that trend to continue.
Leo Meng, 14, the club's newest member, watched the team in action as an outsider. His decision to join, he said, stemmed from admiration - watching his classmates do the right thing.
"These guys are role models for me," he said. "I've watched them at games as it gets crowded and people are pushing each other around. They'll kind of keep things straight, keep things in line. I've seen them give the other (basketball) team high fives and stuff (after a game). I thought that was really cool."
The students aren't tattletales, Oswald said, but rather an added security presence to benefit the rest of the student body.
Oswald said his next step is recruiting girls to the team.
"It's important students feel safe," Oswald said. "It's one of my goals to become more aware of safety. The safety team has become a part of the culture of our school and making sure kids feel safe."
Reporter Kirsten Johnson can be reached at 542-6757.